Robotics: At the intersection of technology & humanity

  • What is the future of autonomous robots?
  • How will social robots shape our future?

Robots and their place in our world

We've brought together some of the leading editors in the field to explore what the future holds for social and autonomous robots. 

What does the future hold for autonomous robotics?

kimon-1 © Springer© Springer© SpringerProf. Kimon P. Valavanis is the Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems and Editor of the Handbook on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles  

In this article Prof Valavanis answers important questions on the future of UAVs and the role of ethics and standards in developing autonomous drones.  

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What is the impact of social robots on present and future societies?

© SpringerSocial Robotics is the study of how robots interact with humans and society. The Journal of Social Robotics, now in its 10th year of publication publishes research that highlights innovative ideas and concepts, new discoveries and improvements, as well as novel applications in the field.

We asked the Editors-in-Chief of the journal what will be the impact of social robotics on present and future societies?

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Social robotics research offers enormous opportunities for assisting and providing strong support to humans in their daily lives – in healthcare, elderly care, education, service, and production, among others. Social robots have a great potential for technological development that can fill the gap of workforce shortages in many areas of today’s human life, and even more so in the future in view of the accelerating trend of aging societies in the developing world. However, despite the promises that social robots bring, we must be aware of the many misconceptions about what robots can or cannot do at present.  Pop culture, blog entries, and posts in social media fuel people’s imagination about unrealistic science-fiction-like scenarios of hyper-efficient and infallible robots with super-human skills.  Present-day robots are however far from that. Robots for social applications are not yet sufficiently reliable, are not autonomous, and certainly are not yet fully social.

As social robotics hold the promise of high potential benefits to society, much research effort in this area must be devoted to the development of robots that are safe and able to effectively interact and cooperate with humans. These robots must be able to perceive human social signals and respond accordingly. The effort in social robotics requires an interdisciplinary approach: joining forces of robotics, psychology, cognitive science, human-friendly design, social neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Major advances in social robotics will take time and the introduction of robots in our daily lives will happen gradually – by moving from lab-based experiments to robust and reliable capabilities in more real-life settings. Robot deployment will continue to take place in partially structured environments and for simple tasks, such as providing information and guidance to passengers in airports or delivering goods to a hotel room or medicine in hospitals. Progressively, robots will emerge in the natural environment of humans such as homes, offices, or schools. What is certain is that robots will continue to evolve and gain increased cognitive and physical capabilities, impacting many aspects of our daily lives.

Shuzhi Sam Ge, National University of Singapore 
Agnieszka Wykowska, Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia 
Oussama Khatib, Stanford University

Read key research published in the journal:

Guidelines for Designing Social Robots as Second Language Tutors

Investigating People's Rapport Building and Hindering Behaviors When Working with a Collaborative Robot

Developing Kaspar: A Humanoid Robot for Children with Autism

Read selected chapters on Social Robotics challenges:

Explore a selection of featured books below.

© Springer Robotics and Well-Being

This book highlights some of the most pressing safety, ethical, legal and societal issues related to the diverse contexts in which robotic technologies apply. 

© SpringerSocial Robots from a Human Perspective

Exploring the idea that even if technical problems related to robot technologies can be continuously solved from a machine perspective, what kind of machine do we want to have and use in our daily lives?

© SpringerInclusive Robotics for a Better Society

A book that reports on advanced topics in interactive robotics research and practice; in particular, it addresses non-technical obstacles to the broadest uptake of these technologies. 

© SpringerDeveloping Support Technologies

This book shows the advantages of using different perspectives and scientific backgrounds for developing support technologies that are integrated into daily life. It highlights the interaction between people and technology as a key factor for achieving this integration.

© SpringerThe Robot and Us

Offering a clear, yet comprehensive overview of the role of robots in our society. It especially focuses on the interaction between humans and robots, and on the social and political aspects of the integration of robots with humans, in their everyday life, both in the private and working sphere alike.

© SpringerAdvances in Human Factors in Robots and Unmanned Systems

This book focuses on the importance of human factors in the development of safe and reliable unmanned systems.